three simple tips on how to avoid gaining weight during the Festive Season!
The Festive season brings lots of celebrations and parties, many opportunities for you to be 'tempted' by seasonal offerings. It is during these winter months that most people will put on a little weight, in fact the average weight gain during this period is between 1-2lbs.
But, is weight gain an inevitable part of winter? With more carbohydrate rich, calorie dense foods and those dark winter months making it harder to get out of bed and exercise, you may think putting on a little weight during this period is just the way it is - but it doesn't have to be that way.
For many of us Christmas is about celebrating and indulging in food and drink that we love with our family and friends. These foods can be part of the lead up to Christmas and are engrained in the tradition of Yuletide. In fact denying yourself festive treats and foods that you love over Christmas just wouldn't be fun. So here are three simple tips on how to enjoy Christmas without your health and waistline suffering as a result.
1. Eat your Winter Greens
Adding green leafy vegetables such a kale, rocket and spinach is a brilliant way to bulk out meals as they are low in calories, fill you up and are good for you! Bonus. Ensuring your meals contain adequate vegetables is a great way to not only make sure you are getting your 'five a day', but a great way to ensure meals are nutrient dense and high in fibre, making you feel full, whilst not over eating.
Dark winter greens contain high levels of vitamins and minerals which also keep you healthy and feeling good during the winter months. Also make use of seasonable root vegetables such as parsnips and swedes, along with colourful beta carotene* rich butternut squash, pumpkin and carrots. Soups are also the perfect comfort winter food; nutrient dense and super tasty, enjoy homemade versions throughout the winter months.
*Beta carotene is what gives the yellow and orange colours to vegetables and fruits. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the liver and is a powerful antioxidant for our skin, immune system and eye health.
2. Be aware of high street chain 'Christmas' drinks
It can be very tempting to want to indulge in that 'Christmas' feeling whilst out shopping with a warming Christmas drink. But understanding what is in your drink may come as a bit of a shock to some of you.
For example if you were to pop into your local Starbucks and opt for a tall (smallest size) Skimmed Milk Pumpkin Spice Latte it would contain 142 calories and 23g of sugar, the equivalent to 6 teaspoons. This is one of the lowest in sugar and calories drinks on the menu. Government guidance states that sugars should not exceed 60g per day, with The World Health Organisation recommending this be halved to an intake of only 6 teaspoons of sugar in one day for women and 9 for men, there goes your daily allowance!
If you were feeling like a treat and ordered a Venti (largest size) Whole Milk Egg Nog Latte no whipped cream this would contain 478 calories, 18.9g fat, 17.8g of that saturated fat and 56.8g sugar - the equivalent to 14 teaspoons. Drinking this drink would be about the same as eating 2 large mars bars, would you do that whilst out shopping?
Most shocking on the menu would be the SUPER Calorie dense Honey and Almond Hot Chocolate with whipped cream. A Venti size made using whole milk contains 642 calories and 74.5g sugar which is the equivalent to 19 teaspoons of sugar. To put this into perspective, a Big Mac from McDonalds contains 508 calories and 9g of sugar.
Now, I am not saying not to ever indulge in a Christmas drink on the high street, but you need to be aware just how many calories and sugar it contains. So if this is becoming part of your daily or weekly Christmas fare, chances are you will gain weight. Include this daily drink into your regular diet and you could be seriously overindulging in your recommended daily calorie intake without even realising it!
The advice would be stick to your normal daily coffee and if you feel like having a christmas drink - think of it as a treat and opt for the small, non whip, skimmed milk version.
3. Keep Exercising
The winter weather can certainly make it difficult for us to get out and about for a long walk or a run. The cold mornings make it hard to leave the comfort of our bed and go to the gym. But stopping exercising during the cold winter months is one of the worst things you can do, it slows your metabolism, makes it easier to store fat and come next year it will make it all the more difficult to bare your skin on your next Summer holiday.
So what can you do?
Firstly, if it is blowing a gale outside, what is stopping you from putting on your gym gear and working out in the comfort of your own lounge room? I know, there can be distractions, the dog, the baby, the washing. But the truth is 'we make time for things that are important to us'. If you can get into one good habit, let it be exercise, apart from being good for your general health and wellbeing, it will make you feel better, honest.
There are plenty of fitness videos on the internet that you can do at home. Or wrap up warm and go for a long walk (so long as there is no horizontal snow). Or if you can, visit your local gym or leisure centre for a workout, swim or game of tennis. I can guarantee you once you are there you won't regret it.
"Oh I wish I didn't workout today". Said no one, ever.
Hopefully following these simple tips can help you to enjoy your favourite Christmas treats whilst not making January seem even bleaker by having to lose that additional weight you gained over the festive period.